The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) has confirmed the appointment of Dr. David Goldbloom as its new Chair of the Board of Directors effective April 1. Prior to this appointment, he served as the Vice-Chair of the MHCC Board since its inception in 2007. He replaces the outgoing Chair of the Board, the Honourable Michael Kirby. Dr. Goldbloom is a practicing psychiatrist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto.
"I want to thank the Honourable Michael Kirby for helping to create the Commission and for supporting the work of the Commission for the first five years of its mandate," says federal Minister of Health, the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq. "I am pleased to appoint and welcome Dr. Goldbloom to this new role and look forward to working with him to build upon the achievements of the Commission to date," she says.
"Mike Kirby is a tough act to follow," says Dr. Goldbloom. "He's had an enormous impact on mental health in Canada and I've learned a great deal from him in our work together. But I've also learned a lot from my patients, their families, my colleagues and students across a number of disciplines. I'm looking forward to working with the dedicated MHCC Board and staff - as well as stakeholders across the country - to help translate this passion and knowledge into action and meaningful change for Canadians and their families with mental health problems and illnesses."
Dr. Goldbloom was raised in Québec and Nova Scotia and his distinguished educational background ranges from an undergraduate degree in Government at Harvard University to a graduate degree from the University of Oxford, which he attended as a Rhodes Scholar, to medical and psychiatric training at McGill University. He is the recipient of numerous awards, the author of many articles, an experienced public speaker and an expert frequently interviewed by media. He currently holds several other positions including Senior Medical Advisor, Education and Public Affairs, at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto, and Chair of the Board of Governors of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.
"I've enjoyed working with David Goldbloom and value his commitment, passion and humour," says MHCC CEO Louise Bradley. "His strong clinical background lends itself so well to the work of the Commission because he lives and breathes the issues surrounding mental health in Canada. I'm looking forward to working together as we take the Commission through its next phase," she says. "That said, we will very much miss Mike Kirby, who has contributed immeasurably to the success of the Commission's work so far, and without whom it would not exist."
Michael Kirby was originally named Board Chair of the MHCC when it was created in 2007. Since then, the Commission has achieved several milestones under his leadership. They include the development of an anti-stigma initiative, a five-city research project on mental health and homelessness, a knowledge exchange centre, and the first Mental Health Strategy for Canada set to be released this year. With the appointment of Dr. Goldbloom, Mr. Kirby feels he is leaving the Commission in very good hands.
"David Goldbloom is eminently qualified and capable of assuming this role," says Mr. Kirby. "He brings with him extraordinary knowledge in all areas of mental health and he's a proven leader with an incredible track record."
Kirby emphasizes that none of the Commission's work would have been possible without the support of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Mr. Kirby says his own personal vision of improved mental health care in Canada came into sharper focus with his work on the 2006 Senate report on mental illness and addictions. That report resulted in the federal government's creation of the MHCC. Since then, and in collaboration with numerous partners, the Commission has contributed to increased awareness and sharing of knowledge through its projects and initiatives. Its upcoming work will focus on encouraging new ways of thinking and acting in both the government and private sectors.
To that end, Kirby will continue his work in the mental health field, as Chair of the Board of "Partners for Mental Health" - a newly-created organization dedicated to sparking a social movement that will reposition mental health on the national agenda, using the voices and actions of ordinary Canadians. "We're finally getting mental illness out of the shadows forever," he says.